Clery Act revisions: More regulations, more questions

Amendments focus on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

Proposed revisions to the Clery Act aim to give colleges and universities a more clear, centralized set of regulations to prevent and investigate sexual assault on campus. The amendments focus on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, changes that were made to the Clery Act in 2013.

The U.S. Department of Education is proposing that institutions be required to:

  • Keep statistics about the number of incidents of sexual assault on campus.
  • Revise their definition of “rape” to reflect the FBI’s most recent definition.
  • Provide prevention and awareness programs to incoming students and new employees.

Olabisi L. Okubadejo, counsel with national law firm Ballard Spahr LLP, says the revisions will undoubtedly have a strong impact on campus.

“Now students are able to bring an advisor to their hearing,” Okubadejo says. “Previously, attorneys were not involved in university proceedings, particularly at private institutions. Attorneys would cost administration additional time commitment, and would change the nature of the proceedings.”

She also predicts a turbulent transition as institutions attempt to apply these provisions to their oft-tangled campus procedures.

“There’s a lot of detail to work out in the new rules. There is no accepted, national definition of consent,” Okubadejo says. “There’s also not a lot of guidance on hate crimes: How one figures out the perpetrator; how one knows what a hate crime really is. Add in the layer of gender identity, and this can result in an increase in complaints.”

The proposed provisions to the Clery Act will be finalized in November.


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